chapter  Chapter Twenty-Six
19 Pages

The politics of conflict

War before and beyond the state in Maya society
WithOmar Andrés Alcover Firpi, Charles Golden

Archaeological, iconographic, and textual data indicate that war was an ever-evolving sociopolitical practice among the ancient Maya. In this chapter, we highlight key discoveries and theoretical developments in the anthropological study of Maya warfare. Throughout, we emphasize that warfare—beyond its role as a catalyst for both state formation and political collapse—was a political and economic tool that played a continuous role in the maintenance of Maya communities and polities, with roots in the 1st millennium BCE.